Tag Archive: Edmonton

Aug 22

Seventh Show – Closing Edmonton

We had our last show tonight at 22:00.

 

I’d hustled my ass off all afternoon to do whatever I could to boost our audience numbers.  I wanted to go out on a high note.

 

So we had 52 people in the audience tonight (I calculate that there were supposed to be 56, but four people must have bought tickets and were late.  There was one walkout, but he’d been checking his phone.

 

I spent probably about 5 – 6 hours flyering this afternoon, specifically to get a younger, noisier crowd.  Did get younger (some mother came with her 9 year-old!).  Still got very quiet.

 

Josiah again said that he felt they were listening; which seems true.  I had no sleepers that I could see.  But they were very unresponsive, although they laughed at some of the jokes.

 

Anyway, we loaded out tonight, and are spending one more day fringeing (or at least, I am: Ramona needs to take Vanessa the Van in for a checkup tomorrow).  After that, there’s a party tomorrow night at 20:30, and then we’re off bright and early on Monday for Victoria (but first, camping near the Ice Fields in Jasper!).

 

A great note to leave Edmonton on!

Aug 20

Sixth Show

Had our sixth show today at 18:15.  Decent house, though once again, somewhat papered.

 

Today’s audience was really quiet again, but intent.  Josiah once again heard people saying they liked it as they left the building.  But almost NOTHING got a laugh today.  Not even the “Ladies, gentlemen… racoons” got a giggle today.  Only last Sunday’s evil audience was worse for that.  Thinking they were bored, I pumped everything I had into the show, resulting in a broken voice and a very sore back.

 

(The broken voice may also have been caused by the thick smoke in the air which has been blown in from the B.C. forest wildfires.)

 

The chair didn’t slide today: Ramona shored it up with some non-skid patches and it stayed put.

Aug 19

Fifth Show

Okay, so we’re over the hump now with two more shows to go.

 

Today’s audience was quiet again, but they weren’t frowny like our Sunday audience, and I was able to, as we used to say in Theatre school, “bus’ a cap in its ass” and avoid the vampiric leaching effect that I felt on Sunday.

 

A technical problem has surfaced over the last two performances.  I think the vinyl for the floorpiece is wearing down and getting slick, because in shows four and five, the chair moved back early in the show (I think during the decompression scene when I lean against it), which it never used to do.  I know the chair moved back, because I preset it myself, thinking that yesterday’s problem was a chair misplacement, and when I went to open it, it touched the back flat again, which it is not supposed to do.

 

So, the audience was quiet, but our tech, Josiah, said that he heard people saying they enjoyed it as they walked out (something he did not hear on Sunday).

 

It’s getting hard to flyer lines now, because so many people have already got all their tickets for the rest of the Fringe (Edmonton allows shows to advance sell 100% of their tickets with no additional surcharge).  I’m still doing it when we pass a line, but today my friend Robyn was driving through on the way to Vancouver, so I spent a few hours in the afternoon with her, since we haven’t seen each other in 12 years.

 

Tomorrow’s a light day: show at 18:15 and we’re seeing only two or three other shows.  We will probably sleep in in the morning and then do laundry and such: both Ramona and I were exhausted today.

Aug 18

Fourth Show

Very brief because it’s very late.

 

Great show today.  We papered the house and tried to get artists in, rather than what Ian Goodtime calls “the CBC greyhairs”, who are old people who just sit there and frown at you because I suppose they expected “a proper play”.  Not all old people are CBC greyhairs: our host, in whose house we are staying, is 74, and more open-minded than most people a third of her age.

 

What we’re finding in Edmonton, based on the reactions of audiences of shows we’ve seen or otherwise know of, is that people in Edmonton are pretty tolerant when it comes to content, but you frustrate their expectations of STRUCTURE at your own peril.  They don’t expect Neil Simon, but they expect the structure to not challenge them very much.

 

In any case, I had a few glitches in today’s show (like forgetting to turn the chair on at the start of the show), which I covered gracefully, because I was in the zone thanks to a super-supportive audience (including the big dude from The Supervillan Monologues who guffawed at every joke—even the ones I thought would never get a laugh).   It was a nice cool day (high around 16 degrees), so the venue was pleasant.

 

Ramona and I also took in 4 more shows, which I will have to blog at more length about later.

Aug 17

Day Off

We had another day off today, so we did some more fringing.

 

We saw only three shows today (these are not reviews, just impressions):

 

This Is Not A Play, a physical Theatre show which was amazing to watch, although my ability to follow physical Theatre is limited.  It was well-conceived, fucking well performed, and beautiful to watch.  So my not understanding it is more a comment on me being a moron when it comes to non-text-based shows more than the show.  It did not lessen my enjoyment of it.

 

Fucking Stephen Harper: How I Sexually Assaulted the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada and Saved Democracy, great political piece, every minute of which is as enjoyable as actually talking to Rob Salerno (the author/performer)  himself, which is very.

 

One Man Riot: finally saw this piece, and it lived up to its hype.  Not only awesome and sweat-filled but inspiring.

 

So, wow.  Only three shows and some flyering of lines and such today.  Tomorrow I have a show at 12:30, after which we have a full dance card (five or six shows—don’t expect me to write about them all).  I hope it goes better than Monday’s show.  I really need to kick one out of the park on this tour (no, I’m not mixing metaphors: I’m shit at baseball, I prefer kickball).

Aug 17

The Mountain Man Visits The Fringe

So last night, we’re sitting in the Academy at King Edward (our venue as well) watching a show called Seeking.  The show is a little into its first scene when suddenly there’s this banging on the door.

 

“What ho?” we all think, or rather, we don’t, because people don’t think words like that, and especially not all at the same time, but you get the idea, which is startlement and surprise and “is it part of the show”?

 

No.  It’s not part of the show.  It’s some crazy ass fringer and his girlfriend who got lost and arrived late, and are now trying to get in by any means necessary.

 

The door is opened slightly to stop the pounding and a mountain man pushes his way in with his girlfriend.

 

“Do you want a war?” he asks Josiah, one of the venue’s techs, “Because I love a war.”

 

Josiah decides (rightly, as it turns out, because this mofo is built like a goddamn smokehouse) that discretion is the better part of valour, and the man stomps heavily into the audience.

 

This is when we see him, and we all decide discretion, etc. because this mofo, etc.

 

He complains loudly (we can hear the alcohol on his breath) that he JUST WANTS TO SIT DOWN AND WATCH THE SHOW.  So sit down.  CAN’T I JUST SIT DOWN AND WATCH THE SHOW I PAID FOR.  All right.  Sit down.  I WANT TO SIT—well, you get the picture.

 

He finally sits down.

 

Someone onstage cracks a joke, and the show continues, albeit with tension a little thick in the air.

 

The cast of Seeking handles it like the pros they are, and the audience makes a concerted effort to enjoy it.

 

It’s a good show.

 

Afterwards, we pass three burly security guys on the way out the door, waiting for Mountain Man.  We get in Vanessa (our vehicle) and I suggest to Ramona that we wait for the cast to come out, worried that they’ll be frazzled, and might want to hear some words about what pros they were.  Because frankly, I think I’d like some positive feedback if I’d had to deal with that.

 

While we’re waiting, Mountain Man is encouraged out of the venue and starts talking nonsense to the security guys.  It looks like this might blow up, so we agree to boot it rather than stay seated (as duck) where we are.  As we drive away, we hear Mountain Man talk about how he’s “ON YOUR SIDE”.

 

Apparently, after we left, he went on about how he fought against demons and such.

 

Glad we missed that.

 

Anyway, interesting night.Mountain_Man

Aug 17

Third Performance – A Cup of Water

Blah.

 

A moth flew around the stage as I plugged my way through a technically perfect performance #3.

 

It may have all been my fault.  Something strange happened when I went out on stage.

 

Now, I’m an atheist and a sceptic.  I don’t believe in “vibes” or “hoodoo” or vague notions of “energy”, but something happened.  From the first moments of the show, my energy level was low.  I realized it immediately, and dialled it up… or tried to,anyway.

 

No matter what I did, it felt like, in the words of the Wizard Ged from the Earthsea novels, "All I had in the end was one cup of water, and I had to pour it out on the sand . . . "

 

The sand, in this case, if I wasn’t a sceptic, was the audience.  I felt, however unfairly, however irrationally, that their unresponsiveness, their blank faces, their dour looks, were pulling the life right out of me.  I fought and I pushed and I tried to reach them, but… nothing.  And in the end, I got my first real half-assed polite applause of my entire Fringe tour.  It wasn’t just a quiet audience… it felt like a malevolent audience.

 

But that is irrational.  In the end, it all comes down to me, and I need to search myself and figure out why my performance fell flat and why I couldn’t activate them.  London proved that 39 is not an alienating show and that while some people may not “get” it and thus be pulled out of the world, most people, even those a bit lost, will allow themselves to venture forth with me on my odyssey.

 

As depressing and upsetting as it was, I will try to take this experience on board and reflect on it so that I can improve the show for Tuesday.

 

It wasn’t all bad, though.  I think the two burnout scenes were the best they’ve been yet, and the shuttle launch sequence was the most physically grounded it’s ever been.  Oh, and I had a big dog in the audience, so I got to play some of the post-human bits to him/her.

Aug 15

Second Edmonton Performance

It’s getting late, and we have an early brunch with our host’s family tomorrow morning, so I’ll make this short.

 

We had our second performance this afternoon at 4:15.  The official count  says 30 people, but Ramona swears she counted 38 in the house.

 

The venue was nice and cool, owing to the on-and-off rain we had yesterday and this morning (I think).  So I only added about one kilo to the weight of my costume’s shirt via sweat transfer.

 

This time it was our smoke machine that conked out; the web cam worked fine.  Only the first smoke effect happened, and for the rest, the device stayed silent.

 

I thought I had a relatively strong performance, but the audience today was QUI-ET.  Our house tech Josiah said that he thought they seemed attentive.  I told him he was a gentleman for saying so.  There’s a good chance that there was another reviewer in the house today, as our ticket sales list another media pass for today.  NERVES!

 

Oh, and I see one for tomorrow, too.  NERVES!

 

Oh, Ramona added another layer of vinyl to the backdrop yesterday which FINALLY stopped the light bleed from the projector.  She was working tonight on the floor piece which was having problems due to being transported from Toronto in a hot car, so it should be flatter and easier to tape down tomorrow.

 

Sleeping time now…

Aug 15

Reviews

Okay, here are the reviews.  Quite a mixed bag so far.

 

http://vueweekly.com/fringe/play/p_39/  (3 out of 5 stars)

This one I take some pride in.  I’ve read a few of her other reviews, and it seems that unlike some of her colleagues (one of whom gave the TERRIBLE show I saw yesterday a FOUR star review—and we’re not talking a matter-of-opinion here, we’re talking no one who has seen more than a handful of plays in his or her lifetime would have thought this show was good; we’re talking her standards must be so low that a cat vomiting a hairball would get three stars; we’re talking first time scene study class here, people), Ms. Dart actually is stingy with her stars.  So I’ll take this one as a win.

Oh, and I don’t know where they got their info about our show, but apparently Monique Van Kerkhof is in this version of the show?!?!

 

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/entertainment/festivals/3302118/story.html (2 out of 5 stars)

Ouch.  I think this was the bored guy I saw in the front row.  On re-reading, it’s not as bad as it looked when I saw it last night, but I think he must have got lost early on and then never hooked back in.  I also don’t like how he calls me a “Toronto actor”.  I’m a Yokohama actor.  I guess he got the info from a Google search or from reading my bio page at http://yokohama-theatre.com without noticing the context of THE YOKOHAMA THEATRE GROUP.

 

http://www.seemagazine.com/edmonton-blogs/Go-Fest-Yourself/2010/08/13/fringe-review-39-87/ (4 out of 5 stars)

I’m less proud of this than I should be.  I think the reviewer got the jist and obviously enjoyed the show, but it niggles me that I didn’t transmit the idea of the gland in the brainstem being an optional thing that people have installed, or that the machines are benevolent and it’s the post-humans themselves who have created problems in a society that should/could be perfect.  But I guess them’s the breaks of doing a one-hour show of an idea that could probably yield six hours of material.

 

So those are the reviews.  We may have one more coming from the Edmonton Sun.

Aug 14

First Show Edmonton

So, we rehearsed our butts off with our two new stagehands yesterday afternoon before the show.  I went from being pants-shitting nervous to simple urine-stain nervous during that time, as they seemed to be quietly competent which was more than I had the right to expect from grade 11 students.

The show went… well, all things considered.  The web cam failed just before we went up, so our great bits of stagecraft with it (the floating in space scene, and the crash scene) didn’t read as well as they should of.  But that was the only technical problem, except for some minor lighting cue fluffs.  But that’s just because Ramona is getting used to our improvised walkie-talkie intercom system.  She can’t operate it hands free (since there’s no booth, she has to whisper into it, which is not loud enough to activate the VOX system).

 

It was a cool night, so the venue was only about as hot as our London venue, but my shirt at the end weighed about two kilograms more than it did when I started, loaded down as it was with sweat.  I regret the choice of vinyl for the costume jackets.  I am NOT looking forward to doing the show on a really hot day (like 25+) in there.

 

The house was 27.  Which is about 25% of the venue’s capacity.  Not a huge house, although it looked large from where I was performing, since everyone sat in the middle rows.  Important to note: this is bigger than our largest house in London, so hopefully it’s just the beginning.

 

There was a reviewer in the house last night, who gave us an okay review.  At three stars (out of five), it’s not a glowing endorsement, but it shouldn’t keep people away either.  We’ve been told that Edmonton is very review-driven, so it’s a relief that we didn’t get trashed, and the end of the review did call us “fringe-worthy”.  Of course, there are still at least two more publications that are likely to review us, so we’re not out of the woods, yet.

 

One thing I’d like to know: how did we go from “best stagecraft of the festival” (London) to “passable” (Edmonton)?

Aug 12

Networking and Signage

Or signage and networking, if you want the strict chronological order of things.

 

No photos here, so I’ll keep this short to prevent my blog from becoming a wall of text.

 

On Monday we started throwing signs up after being told by Jem Rolls that we’d better shit or get off the pot (he was more couth than that).  We postered on the streets and walked into stores and begged them to put up our paper (this early and in some the available space was already being eaten up).  We managed to get our posters up, even if we had to hang them sideways.

 

Yesterday (Tuesday), we postered the area around the Fringe where posterboards and fences were starting to come out.  While we waiting for the venue boards to be numbered, we postered wherever else we could, including the AMAZING bubble tea shop we discovered:

 

Then, in the evening, we headed to the billet party, where all the Fringe billeters and their billets (I don’t know which is which, linguistically speaking) came and met.

 

We met a bunch of people and will hopefully exchange comps with them in order to see a bunch of shows for free.

 

That’s about it for now.

Aug 10

New Mission: Edmonton!

39 officially landed in Edmonton on Monday, August 9th 2010 when Andrew’s Greyhound bus pulled into the Edmonton bus terminal 30 minutes late.

 

The 39 cast and touring crew (all two of us) are being billeted in Edmonton by a lovely woman named Lois and her greyhound (dog, not bus) Caesar.  Lois has a giant house, and Ramona and I have each taken over an entire storey of the building.  Ramona’s up on the third floor loft bedroom, and I’m in the basement.  The house is entirely open concept, so we really do each have a whole floor to ourselves.  (I think we each have a toilet to ourselves too, or at least I do.)  The shower is on Lois’s floor, so we need to let her know when we’re going to be naked up there, since not only is the house open-concept, but it’s covered with mirrors.

 

For his part, Caesar is probably the sweetest dog I’ve ever met.  He’s friendly, but not aggressively so, and very gentle, almost to the point of timidity.  This probably has to do with the fact that he’s a rescued racing dog and was likely not trained too gently.

 

 Production Photos
"39" Edmonton Fringe Tour
Yokohama Theatre Group, August 12 - 22, 2010

Caesar: my new favourite dog in the world.

 

 

We had our tech last night in our venue: The Academy at King Edward.  Only two of the venues of the Edmonton Fringe are actual Theatres.  The rest are converted from other buildings.  In our case, a school gymnasium.

 

And they’ve done a fantastic job of converting it.  From the audience point-of-view, it’s great!  From our point-of-view it’s slightly less so.  There are not really enough practicals (power outlets for backstage equipment) for our needs (chair, projector, laptop, smoke machine).  To be fair, there was a mention of this in the tech sheet the Fringe gave us, but it referred to “onstage practicals”, and I guess we just expected that backstage ones would be available.  Whoops, our bad.  Our house techs (who are awesome, nice, and incredible) have done their best to help us out, and we think we’ve got a solution which will work on Thursday (which involves us buying a power bar just in case). 

 

As a side note, the house techs need to refocus the specials before each show—they are awesome people.  Of course, this means that while we get three specials, we have no real choice as to where they are hung in the grid.  We should have figured this out as well from the technical specs sent by the venue, and I think we would have if we’d had a little more experience with various Fringes, but I think we just figured that the specials would be hung on top of what was already in the grid and that they’d be patched in as needed.  We didn’t do the math though: 10 shows x 3 specials = 30 instruments.  Duh.

 

One element that is missing and wasn’t mentioned on the tech sheet is an intercom.  Ramona therefore can’t call cues from the soundboard to our stagehands who are running the projector (and who won’t be in town until a scant six hours before we open).  The show is already crazily over budget, we’re planning to drop at least $200 on some decent handsfree walkie-talkies (we need two sets, since we need three) in order to make sure Ramona can communicate with the backstage area.  We’re hoping to sell them on Craigslist after the show is over.

 

In any case, lots of stress before we open.

 

But while I’m stressed out and nervous, I have got to say this: I am so psyched to be in Edmonton and actually be part of this Fringe.  This is really a dream come true, touring a Fringe show across the country.

 

We managed to snap a few shots at the tech, but they were taken by our billet-person Lois, who, while she did a tolerable enough job, was using an SLR camera for the first time in her life.  They are posted below.

 

39 at the Edmonton Fringe 39 at the Edmonton Fringe 39 at the Edmonton Fringe39 at the Edmonton Fringe